“She’s wearing a sleeveless dress—is she supposed to be a political leader?”
“Well maybe if you didn’t send the wrong message to guys by wearing what you’re wearing, you wouldn’t have been raped.”
“It’s your fault he came on to you, what was he supposed to do—ignore a pretty woman?”
“If you are a stripper you should get raped, it will teach you a lesson about your behavior.”
These are some actual quotes said by real people. Women, especially in the workforce, have been sexually harassed for a very long time, but time is up.
Time is up now and that’s why a movement called Time’s Up was founded and created by Tarana Burke a few years ago and publicized by celebrities in 2018 to stand against sexual harassment. The perception in society used to be that women became sexual objects for men because it was a man’s “right” to treat a woman in such a demeaning manor.
Usually when a woman is sexually harassed, it is a situation (work or otherwise) where she never ushers her consent. If she has the courage to report the behavior, she finds that the sexual harasser does not get reprimanded. It’s no wonder then why women have withheld their voices to defend their rights…..until now.
A great many people question why these women, who have remained silent for so long, are suddenly coming out telling their stories.
People misunderstand the intentions of these women and mistake it for publicity, attention, or some sort of compensation. Let me enlighten your perspective based on real life experiences by some victims that I know and recently interviewed who’ve encountered sexual harassment…
Katie, a young mid-twenties woman, has decided to share her experience with unwanted sexual advancements in the workforce. At the time Katie had this experience, she was just a junior in high school working to make extra cash at a restaurant. Although Katie easily made friends with everyone with her bright, delightful personality and unique piercings she also captured the unwanted attention of a cook who worked with her.
One day, noticing her body jewelry, the cook asked her where else on her body she had a piercing and suddenly pulled up her shirt almost over her head. Stunned and afraid, Katie jerked back and told the fellow co-worker not to touch her, but that stopped him only briefly. A few days later as Katie bent down to mop up at the end of her shift, the same cook came over and grabbed her buttocks and tried to grab more of her body parts.
Katie, being a “tough as nails chick,” punched him right after the incident and ran to tell her manager. Although she defended herself vigorously, the manager did not protect her rights as a worker. Instead, Katie was reprimanded for hitting another employee despite how uncomfortable he made her feel. The manager’s solution was for Katie to stay out of the kitchen, and a week later she ended up leaving her job. Justice had not been served.
Miranda also suffered from a sexual harassment encounter. Just 17 years old at the time, Miranda worked at a pizza shop in her hometown. It was her first job and she felt very proud of herself. A coworker of hers who had a daughter the same age, took his wandering eyes to Miranda and acted on those inappropriate thoughts. This employee—on numerous occasions—tried to grab her buttocks, guess the color of her bra and say unfavorable commentary about her body. One night, the man went as far as putting alcohol in Miranda’s beverage to impair her reactions to his unwanted advances. Miranda finally worked up the courage to tell her manager and once again, her need for justice was shot down.
Of course, Miranda didn’t stick around. She now works somewhere else and carries mace with her, frightened that this type of unwanted behavior might happen again at any given moment.
Many women like Miranda and Katie experience the same issues in the workforce repeatedly. When proper actions aren’t taken to make the workplace a safe place for women, then harassers once agin are free to target another woman.
It is clear to me that Miranda and Katie were meant to feel unimportant, unheard and undervalued by their supervisors. Not undervalued with respect to their work, but with respect to their bodies. I’ve even been in their shoes, and unlike Katie and Miranda, who have fearlessly tried to tell a manager, I did not.
At the time I started this new job—which I had to obtain quickly to support my son because I had been laid off—my new boss had tried to seduce me. Over time I would try to cover myself more, make myself seem less appealing by wearing less makeup, wearing less flattering shirts, and go as far as distancing myself from him. None of it worked. My manager still made sexual commentary, and took every opportunity he could to get me alone with him.
I have never felt so uncomfortable. In my mind, I was the new girl that no one would probably believe.
I’d be causing trouble, making waves, and no one would be on my side especially when this manager was so well liked. I couldn’t lose my job. I could not afford to lose my job because I have a child to support. Also, if I took this to court not only would I risk the chance of losing both my money and my dignity, I could make my life at work a living hell. And so, I stayed silent for fear of losing everything.
This movement is about so much more than bringing awareness to the fact that women all over the world every day are being mistreated in the workforce, mischaracterized by their gender, subdued by their male counterparts for having breasts and buttocks, etc., and denied equal pay.
The Time’s Up movement is a stepping stone to changing and evolving women’s rights in society as we know it. Just because a woman dresses a certain way, acts a certain way, or thinks a certain way does not mean she is asking for it nor is she giving consent to violate her body. To comment on a woman’s outfit regarding its supposed agenda is to support rape culture. Kate’s and Miranda’s managers condoned sexual violence by not taking their civil duty seriously to defend the rights of those young women.
Our voices need to be heard. Our time is now.
“We are more than just our dresses.” -Reese Witherspoon